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Breaking down how the Lakers struggled containing Chris Paul

April 19, 2011 | 11:31 am

Breaking down Chris Paul's 11 of 18 shooting in Lakers' 109-100 Game 1 loss to New Orleans Hornets

First quarter, 9:38 - 9:30. Paul and Carl Landry immediately went to screen and roll, and Pau Gasol was already unprepared. He anticipated being ready to switch, but he made an egregious error. Landry set a pick on Fisher's left, yet Gasol stayed to Fisher's right expecting Paul to cut to his left. Paul obviously drove right, prompting Fisher to spin off Landry's body to cut off Paul's drive to the lane. Lakers center Andrew Bynum tried picking up Paul, but Emeka Okafur boxed him out so he Bynum couldn't get a block. That allowed Paul to drive in with ease for an uncontested right-handed layup.

First quarter, 8:15 - 8:08. Once Landry set a pick on Fisher, Gasol appeared ready to pick up Paul on the far end of the free-throw line extended. After intentionally allowing Fisher to fight through the screen, Landry set another pick, to allow Paul to drive left. Despite Gasol being on the free throw line extended and Bynum alone in the lane, Paul weaved through both of them and pulled up for an open 12-foot jumper.

First quarter, 4:46 - 4:35. Landry set a screen on Fisher on the far perimeter, and there was nothing he could do to fight through it. Lakers forward Lamar Odom initially shut off Paul on the far end, but as soon as Gasol picked up Landry once he received a pass cutting baseline, Odom couldn't keep up with guard. After throwing the entry pass into Landry, Paul immediately ran a give-and-go, picking up a dump pass in the lane and connecting on a pull-up inside.

Second quarter, 10:34 - 10:26. None other than former Laker D.J. Mbenga set a screen on Brown, but that's not what really resulted in Paul finding an open six-foot shot in the lane. No, that was just Paul beating Brown off the dribble.

Second quarter, :08 - :02. All the attention understandably fixated on Bryant's fall after hitting a 16-foot fadeaway, but that allowed Paul to hit a wide open three-pointer.

Third quarter, 8:46 - 8:30: It wasn't the pick-and-roll that caused the Hornets to score. But it caused the Lakers to get disorganized. After Okafur ran a pick on Fisher, Paul drove to his right and pulled up for a mid-range jumper despite Bynum contesting it. The shot hit off the front rim, and Gasol grabbed the rebound, though he made no effort to box out Okafur, who simply missed the board because he overextended his reach. After Gasol gave the ball to Bryant, Paul immediately stole it. Bryant shouted upcourt to Fisher and Bynum to get back on defense, while Artest went out to cover Paul, who made an open three-pointer.

Fourth quarter, 4:59 - 4:52:Another pick-and-roll resulted in Gasol guarding Paul one-on-one. After Gray set a high screen on Fisher, Gasol picked Paul up in the lane. When Paul kicked the ball out to Jack, Gasol and Fisher could've switched but neither made any attempt to do so. That prompted Paul to direct everyone to leave the paint so he could run an iso. Instead of driving to the rack, Paul noticed Gasol's passivity and nailed the open 15-footer.

Fourth quarter, 4:29 -4:24: For the second consecutive possession, Gasol guards Paul for reasons that remain headscratching. Paul and Gray ran a high screen-and-roll on Bryant and Gasol switches. Gasol shut off Paul's penetration, but he nailed a 21-footer.

14 assists

First quarter, 11:48 - 11:08: Bryant leaned in and tried to draw contract from Ariza while hoisting an off-balance three-pointer. But the strategy didn't work. Bynum and Artest failed to box out, while Gasol wasn't even in the post once Bryant took the shot. Paul grabbed the board, while all the Lakers immediately sprinted back on defense. The Lakers couldn't match up with Paul's speed as he connected with Carl Landry on the wing. Landry had a clear path to the rack and he finished with a one-handed dunk.

First quarter, 10:34 - 10:23: In a half-court set, Landry was ready to set a back pick on Derek Fisher, but both he and Pau Gasol anticipated and were ready to switch. After Gasol sagged off, Landry set the pick on Fisher again. Fisher curled around, but the screen gave Paul enough time to get leverage. Bryant picked Paul up at the free throw line, but Trevor Ariza remained wide open on the perimeter. It was an understandable strategy, and both Bryant and Ron Artest flooded the perimeter as soon as Ariza touched the ball. Ariza took two dribbles left, pulled up for a 21-footer without being given much space from Bryant and still knocked down the shot.

First quarter, 8:30 - 8:40: Once Landry ran a high backscreen on Fisher, Gasol immediately went toward the far end of the perimeter to cut Paul off. Gasol denied penetration along the far side, while Fisher caught up and gave him little maneuver to dribble. Meanwhile, Lakers forward Ron Artest remained at the free throw line playing the centerfield position, in case Paul drove into the lane. Once Paul fired a crosspass to Hornets guard Marco Belinelli, Artest guarded him in triple threat position. Belinelli drove left, Artest was off and Bynum didn't run out quickly enough to alter the shot. The result: Belinelli hit a runner in the lane with ease.

First quarter, 3:11 - 3:01

This time, Artest picked up Paul at the top of the key, but the changed matchup still didn't work. Hornets center Aaron Gray set a high screen, while Gasol tried to shut off Paul on the perimeter. But Gasol's defense was suspect. He gave Paul so little space that it made it easier for him to to drive around the perimeter. Bynum picked Paul up once he entered the lane, but he didn't account for Gray, who cut inside. That prompted Bryant to make sure Gray didn't have an open look, but that left Bellinelli wide open on the far side for a 24-foot three-pointer.

First quarter, 1:46 - 1:40

Lakers guard Shannon Brown hoped he could be the one who could guard Paul. But that didn't work, either. After Brown attempted to knock the ball out of his hands, Paul picked up the loose ball and then fired a passs to Bellinelli on the nearside perimeter. No one marked him until Matt Barnes rushed out to contest the shot. But it was too late, as Bellinelli swished the three-pointer.

First quarter, 1:28 - 1:16

After finding Barnes open cutting along baseline, Odom threw a behind-the-back pass to him. Gray immediately shut off a good angle to Barnes to make a layup, so he posted up, pivoted and went for a right-handed hook shot. Barnes' attempt hit off the backboard because he had a bad angle on his shot. That resulted in Paul grabbing the board, running the break and feeding Gray with a perfect entry pass inside for the layup. The Lakers had trouble getting back and Odom didn't shut off the passing lane quickly enough to limit Gray.

First quarter, :53 - :39.Initially, the Gray-Paul high screen-and-roll didn't work. Gasol effectively switched to stop Paul from penetrating, while Brown slowed down Gray's cutting toward the basket. Brown and Gasol soon switched back, with Brown guarding Paul on the nearside perimeter and Gasol marking Gray in the paint. The pick set by Jason Smith on Brown proved more effective, giving Brown more time to find an open Ariza on the far end. Ariza dribbled through the free throw line, but Brown, Odom and Bryant immediately picked him up. Gasol had allowed Gray to penetrate in the lane however and Paul found him open instantly, resulting in Gray swishing a 16-foot jumper.

Second quarter, 3:34 - 3:31

Bryant tried beating Paul off the dribble, but he swiped the ball away. Only Artest got back in time, preventing Paul from converting in transition. But he had an open Jarrett Jack to pass to for the wide open layup.

Second quarter, 2:31 - 2:24: This speaks to Paul's remarkable passing ability. Landry called for an entry pass from Jack while posting up on Gasol, proving Landry wasn't worried about his defense one bit. But he should've been from Fisher, who tried yanking the ball out of his hands. After fighting for the ball, Landry retook control and fired a pass up to Paul at the top of the key. While noticing Gray establishing post positioning over Bynum, Paul one-timed his pass to Gray, who immediately finished with a layup.

Third quarter, 5:06 - 4:58: Okafur threw a moving pick on this play, making it understandable why Fisher fell to the ground. Odom was there to stop Paul from driving to the rack. So instead, Paul drove right and thread the needle with a bounce pass inside to Okafur, whom Artest had to pick up after Gasol let him loose in trying to double Paul.

Third quarter, 1:25 - 1:02: This sequence ended in awkward fashion for Gasol, who wound up getting beat one-on-one against Paul. He consistently tried beating Bryant off the dribble, but he remained balanced. Once Gray and Paul ran the pick-and-roll, Gasol immediately switched on Paul, while Bryant switched on Gray. He repeatedly tried establishing post position, but Bryant kept denying him. Paul immediately spread the floor so he could beat Gasol on isolation, while none of the Lakers packed the paint until the very last second. Once he drove into the lane, Paul threw a jump-pass to Gray for the easy layup. There shouldn't have been any reason Gasol permanently switch on Paul. As soon as Paul was denied penetration, Gasol and his teammates should've looked to see who they could switch without exposing defensive cracks.

Third quarter, :38 - :31

Artest switched on Paul, which worked in shutting him off in the lane. But that didn't account Brown leaving Willie Green wide open as he cut baseline for an open bank shot.

Fourth quarter, 2:29 - 2:23: Paul didn't beat the Lakers on a pick-and-roll this time. Instead he found Jack cutting into the lane past Artest and finished with a bank shot.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com


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